Scroll down to see if you might be interested in this issue choice.
This debate will be conducted on Monday 20 September 2013.
To participate and earn credit, you must pass the reading check on 16 September and meet with others who also chose your option on 18 September and participate in the debate on Friday, 20 September.
IMMIGRATION policy in an unsettled world
This photo from 1902, “Emigrants coming to the land of
promise,” shows people huddled on the deck of a ship
coming to the United States.
At the celebration of the
opening of the Statue of Liberty
in 1886, the United States
was a country of fewer than sixty
million people. Vast tracts of
land in the West and the Great
Plains were still largely unsettled,
and the country’s growing
cities were in the middle of the
Industrial Revolution. That year,
334,000 immigrants entered the
United States. The country was
in the early stages of a forty-year
upsurge in immigration that
would transform society and
spark debate about U.S. immigration
policy. Even though many
viewed the immigrants streaming
into the country with apprehension,
few could deny the need for
more farmers and factory workers.
To say that the United States is a country
of immigrants is more than an acknowledgment
of history. It also reflects how many U.S.
citizens perceive their country’s place in the
world—shining a beacon of freedom and opportunity
to all. Since records were first kept
in 1820, more than seventy-four million immigrants
have entered the United States. About
one-third of that total was admitted between
1881 and 1920.
After a lull of almost half a century, immigration
rates turned upward again in the
late 1970s. The 9.5 million newcomers who arrived
in the 1980s surpassed the previous peak
decade of 1901-1910. In the 1990s immigration
continued to rise. In the twenty-first century,
more than one million immigrants (legal and
illegal) have come to the United States yearly.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tost to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
—Emma Larzarus, “The New Colussus”
inscribed at the Statue of Liberty
(Dis) “Honors are Easy.” Now both parties have
something to hang on.
As in 1886, these latest newcomers are arriving
at a time when U.S. immigration policy
is again the subject of debate. With the U.S.
population greater than 300 million and unemployment
running high, many contend that the
United States does not have room for more immigrants. Others argue that the United States
cannot afford to close the door to the skills and
energy newcomers bring.
Since the terrorist attacks of September
11, 2001, national security has also become
a prominent issue in the debate over immigration
policy. The fear of terrorists has led
to increased border control, stricter enforcement
of immigration laws, and more frequent
deportations. Nevertheless, the United States
continues to accept more immigrants, by far,
than any other country.
In the following pages, you will explore
the issues surrounding immigration policy and
consider the course the United States should
take. In Part I of the reading, you will examine
the history of immigration and its evolution
over the years. Part II explores the nature of
immigration today and the issues the United
States faces. Ultimately, you will be confronted
with the same questions facing U.S. policy
makers: How does immigration affect the economy?
How much immigration does the United
States need? How should the United States
balance security and its historical tradition of